First of all, I should thank Coach Schiano for the idea for this ranking system. I've taken the concept from his diary, made a few tweaks, and applied it to all FBS and FCS teams. If you need an explanation of what is happening, I suggest reading there first.
So, the first thing that I did was I loaded all of the game results thus far (excluding last night and this night) into a database. Then, I was able to write a script that built paths between every combination of teams with the lowest possible value. So, MSU beat Wisconsin and Wisconsin beat OSU. The first step is to create paths of length 1 for those two games. After that, I can calculate the value of the path from MSU to OSU and then create a direct path of length 2 between them. Iowa's path to OSU is 3 and so on.
Once I had calculated the minimum value for all possible paths, I averaged out the values and had a very redimentary ranking. This is the exact system that was used in the original diary to rank the teams of the Big Ten, but now we have expanded the teams to compare.
|Original, Unweighted, Without Record|
|North Carolina State|
As you can see, this isn't a very accurate reflection of the best teams in college football. It took me a few minutes to figure out what was going on, but it became clear when I realized that Michigan was on there. The problem is that this system strongly favors a diversified schedule. The more teams that you beat that don't play each other, the better chance you have of getting 2 or 3 length paths.
The first thing that I tried to do to fix this was to weight the games. Instead of automatically giving a team a path of length one for a win, I started dividing that by the number of scores (8 points) that a team won by. So, winning by 24 points, or 3 scores, would give you a path length of .333 over that team. This works out really well because it benefits teams that win by 2 or 3 scores, but it doesn't benefit teams too much for going beyond that.
|Weighted, Without Record|
This seemed to get me a lot closer to where we want to be with a poll, but there are still some issues. How can Auburn be ranked 14 and Missouri be ranked 3? Well, now there is too much weight on winning strong games. But wait, if that's the case, then why isn't Wisconsin ranked in the top 10? That's because all of their blowouts came in the Big Ten. Wisconsin looked like a pretty bad team at the beginning of the year because they won some very close games against lesser opponents.
The only way that I could figure to solve the problems with overweighting is to add another weighting component, which is actually pretty obvious. I decided to add a winning percentage multiplier at the end. Originally, I figured that the concept of graph theory would account for winning. What it really does is account for beating the right teams, i.e. it is the strength of schedule calculation. The reason that I went with a winning percentage is because I don't want to give an advantage to teams playing Hawaii or in championship games, so raw wins was out of the question. I also need a way to penalize a team that loses a 13th game. The only way to do this is to do a winning percentage. 13-0 and 12-0 are now 1.000. 12-1 and 11-1 are only .006 apart. This gives a slight benefit to teams playing an extra game, but also makes sure to penalize properly for losses.
|Weighted, With Record|
|29||Delaware (Highest rated FCS Team)|
|31||Jacksonville State (Beat Ole Miss)|
As you can see, this looks like a real ranking now and it won't automatically place an undefeated team ahead of a 1-loss team. I'm pretty excited about the outcome, because this is actually pretty comparable to the polls that are out there. How comparable?
|My Poll||R||BCS||R||D||AP||R||D||Coaches||R||D||Harris||R||D||Computer Average||R||D|
|Ohio State||5||Ohio State||6||1||Ohio State||6||1||Ohio State||6||1||Ohio State||6||1||Ohio State||9||4|
|Boise State||6||Boise State||11||5||Boise State||9||3||Boise State||10||4||Boise State||10||4||Boise State||14||8|
|Michigan State||11||Michigan State||8||3||Michigan State||7||4||Michigan State||7||4||Michigan State||7||4||Michigan State||11||0|
|Oklahoma State||13||Oklahoma State||14||1||Oklahoma State||16||3||Oklahoma State||15||2||Oklahoma State||16||3||Oklahoma State||12||1|
|South Carolina||15||South Carolina||19||4||South Carolina||18||3||South Carolina||16||1||South Carolina||17||2||South Carolina||18||3|
|Virginia Tech||16||Virginia Tech||15||1||Virginia Tech||12||4||Virginia Tech||11||5||Virginia Tech||12||4||Virginia Tech||20||4|
|Texas A&M||19||Texas A&M||18||1||Texas A&M||19||0||Texas A&M||18||1||Texas A&M||19||0||Texas A&M||16||3|
|Florida State||21||Florida State||21||0||Florida State||20||1||Florida State||20||1||Florida State||20||1||Florida State||22||1|
|Northern Illinois||22||Northern Illinois||25||3||Northern Illinois||24||2||Northern Illinois||23||1||Northern Illinois||24||2||Northern Illinois||25||3|
|West Virginia||24||West Virginia||24||0||West Virginia||23||1||West Virginia||24||0||West Virginia||23||1||West Virginia||24||0|
|Mississippi State||33||Mississippi State||22||11||Mississippi State||22||11||Mississippi State||22||11||Mississippi State||22||11||Mississippi State||21||12|
What you have here is my ranking along with some of the more common rankings you will see. I didn't think all of the computer rankings would fit in this chart, so I just took the average of them. The numbers to the right of the poll are the ranking of those teams in the poll and then the difference between that ranking and my ranking. The BCS poll does not show beyond the top 25, so I can't compare those teams to mine. At the bottom, you will see the average difference and and the most common difference between the polls. The team that seemed to cause me the most troubles is Mississippi State. They alone account for a little less than half a rank in each of the averages.
So, I'm planning on doing another ranking next week after all the games have been played and another after all the bowls have been played. I'd also like to do conference rankings and go back to previous years and "resolve" controversies. By next week, I will have tweaked this a bit more to add in homefield advantage and hopefully perfected the formula.
I have one last ranking for you. This is the algorithm without the margin of victory used to weight the wins. This is essentially what would be submitted to the BCS because they don't allow points into the calculations. It's interesting that it places Auburn in first now just like the rest of the computers.
|No Weights, With Record|
L, 0-3 (22-25, 17-25, 16,25)
The volleyball team was swept in the opening round of the NCAA tournament last night at the hands of #11 Washington. The #23 Wolverines were missing Alex Hunt due to an injury, and adding more youth to an already young lineup didn't help Michigan's cause.
[Ed-M: Well, f.
In case you went to bed last night thinking that Michigan will be playing in a bowl game, a competent CEO-type athletic director is in charge of the program, and a 5-star-ish recruit perfect for our offensive system will be enrolling in January, you seem to have been 2/3rds correct.
Regarding Dee Hart, I talked to someone close to him and it looks like the rumors may have legs. Not sure specifics yet.
The news inspired a 500-response thread and at least one user getting caved. As an attempt to restore sanity, and because I trust Tom, I am bumping Tom's diary on the subject (and on other RB options Michigan is in good shape with) to the front page.
At the moment, this seems to be rumor, but believeable. It becomes fact when Dee Hart says it is; until then we have a source close to Dee who says it's fact. For those of you who remember getting burned by Will Campbell only for a "just joking" thing after, this doesn't feel like that.
If you stick a gun to my head and say "okay Misopogon, you tell me why Hart decommitted right this second or I'll blow your brains all over your precious internet," I would say that Dee wants to get his college football career underway at the beginning of January, and Michigan wants to make a decision on who will be his head coach after that. This opinion is entirely conjecture, conflicts with a previous statement made by Hart, and should be taken as no more than that. Expect something more informative and concrete from Brian or Tim later today. Here's Tom: [/Misopogon]
TomVH: Dee Hart Alternatives
Hopefully everyone's calmed down from the Demetrius Hart news. For those of you that follow me on Twitter, I did talk to someone close to him and it looks like he will be decommitting. He's shut down contact, so I wasn't able to get a hold of him or his family. They don't like to disappoint people, so I'm not sure how much contact they'll have. The Michigan coaches will be making a visit out to try to do damage control with Dee. We'll see what ultimately happens with it, things can change.
Moving on from that, Justice Hayes is committed, Michigan is hoping Thomas Rawls makes grades, and there's two more options out there. Tre Mason (5'10", 190 lbs, 4 Star) and Devondrick Nealy (5'10", 175 lbs, 3 Star). Michigan is in great position with Nealy, and we most likely lead.
Mason is one to watch, and I talked to him tonight. He was interested and intrigued with the news of Demetrius Hart. I asked him about Michigan, and he had this to say.
I like Michigan, but Coach Dews has been talking to me about defense lately, and I do not want to play defense. I like Auburn a lot too, but if Michigan wanted me back as a running back then they'd have a good shot at me. I'm looking at depth charts and everything, so we'll see.
You have to think that Michigan had been talking defense with Tre because they had Demetrius Hart and Justice Hayes committed. They didn't have room for a third running back of the same kind. If Demetrius does in fact decommit then I would assume Michigan would tell Tre that they want him on offense again. Just something to keep an eye on if everything goes down as it seems like it will.
There has been loads of analysis done on Rich Rodriguez's progress so far as Michigan's head coach. Many are not satisfied with the improvements that Rich has made in this football team so far, and after watching the defense this year this viewpoint is very understandable. With many calling for a coaching change, and with the majority of those who want this set on bringing in Jim Harbaugh, it's time we take a look at exactly what Jim Harbaugh has done for Stanford's defense during his tenure as their Head Coach. We will look at four things; recruiting, personnel, coaches and performance. This will give us an idea of whether he will be able to turn the ship around if he is indeed brought in.
Most people know Harbaugh's records at Stanford. Coming off a 1-11 year in 2006, Harbaugh took over and posted the following records:
As many of you know, recruiting is the lifeblood of a football program so we'll start here. Lets take a look at Harbaughs ability to recruit on the defensive side of the ball. Note: Rivals star ratings used to evaluate talent.
Harbaugh clearly stepped up recruiting at Stanford. He was able to start bringing in more talent , but it also seems that he is near the ceiling in bringing in top-end recruits. Harbaugh should definitely be credited with the improvement in recruiting for his ability as a recruiter. Part of it is also due to the improvement in Stanford's record.
This trend is impressive, but not overly so. Stanford has plenty of things to pull in recruits (academics, location, playing time) and the last two recruiting years have had less competition from other in-state schools. Also it must be noted that California is one of the top recruiting hot-spots when it comes to bringing in talent (and particularly talent that also peforms well in school). Harbaugh should be able to bring in better talent at Michigan, however there is nothing to show that he will out-peform Rodriguez.
2.) Depth Chart
In order to evaluate Stanford's performance on the defensive side of the ball, it's necessary that we take a look at their roster composition and the experience in the two-deep.
Stanford has never started a Freshman or RS Freshman on defense under Jim Harbaugh. They have never had a two-deep with more underclassmen than upperclassmen. This is primarily due to a lack of the attrition that was faced by Rodriguez at Michigan. Harbaugh can be credited for keeping his players around more effectively than Rodriguez. Rodriguez has lost some of his recruits and that is definitely on him. However when it came to keeping Carr recruits, Rodriguez could only do so much. Harbaugh on the other hand wasn't dealing with kids that were dedicated to a coach that had departed, the kids were dedicated to their school as most were trying to get a Stanford degree. I'll give Harbaugh a slight advantage over Rodriguez in identifying the right players that will stay in school and keeping them around but I don't think we can entirely rule out that Harbaugh wouldn't have problems keeping players (particularly RR players) around at Michigan.
3.) Coaching Staff
Here is the list of defensive coordinators at Stanford during Harbaugh's tenure.
- 2007 Scott Shafer
- 2008 Ron Lynn
- 2009 Andy Buh
- 2010 Vic Fangio
While Harbaugh did not change defensive coordinators every year because his defense was underpeforming, it should be noted that he went through four defensive coordinators in four years and was still able to find success on that side of the ball in year 4 after bringing in a seasoned DC. His ability to keep a consistent staff on that side of the ball can be questioned just as much as Rodriguez's ability to do the same. This also shows that even with transition you can come out doing well (2010 Illinois is another example).
4.) Defensive Performance
|Year||Scoring D||Rush D||Pass D||Total D||PE D|
Interestingly, Harbaugh struggled with his defense for 3 years and had a breakthrough this year in his fourth year. There's not that much separating Rodriguez and Harbaugh in terms of defensive performance in their first 3 years. The only differences were that Harbaugh had an experienced group and was able to keep players from leaving the program. Stanford faced a talent disadvantage when compared to U of M but the defense was never decimated as much as it is at Michigan. Rodriguez had some experience on D in his first year but after that many players left, others didn't pan out and the rest are now starting. I think Stanford's experience and lack of attrition and Michigan's talent advantage cancel each other out (I actually think that Stanford has been in a better position).
Year 3 specifically is something to look at. Their talent was slightly worse than what Michigan has in year 3, but their experience level was leaps and bounds above Michigan's. That said, Stanford peformed only just a bit better defensively than this year's Michigan team has.
Moving on to Harbaugh's 4th year we see drastic improvement across the board in the defensive rankings. This is definitely a resume booster for Harbaugh, but if we look behind the rankings, what do we get? Let's take a look at the scoring offense of each of Stanford's opponents this year and Stanford's performance against them.
|Team||Scoring Off Rank||PPG||Points against Stanford|
Looking at this table, Stanford's good looking defensive numbers come from shutting out some terrible offenses and slowing down a couple decent ones. Outside of Arizona and ASU, Stanford did not have any defensive performances to write home about. They gave up 52 points to the only top 25 offense they faced, and gave up more points than the season average PPG of three weak to average opponents (Wake, USC, and Washington St.). Stanford put up some nice looking defensive numbers this year, but the fact is that the competition left a lot to be desired.
After looking through these numbers it's hard to pinpoint exactly what Harbaugh is going to bring to Michigan over Rodriguez in terms of improving the defensive side of the ball. He had 3 below average to terrible years during which faced challenges that weren't greater than what Rodriguez has faced at Michigan (less talent but much more experience). Those who point at year 4 as a reason that he is going to fix Michigan's defense should think twice. First, one year is way too small a sample size. And two look at the competition. The Pac-10 had one amazing offense, and the rest ranged from mediocre to terrible.
Many things are similar between Michigan's defense under Rodriguez and Stanfords defense under Harbaugh. The first three years look strikingly similar to Michigan's numbers the last three years (in what I would argue a weaker conference). Once Harbaugh was able to get enough talent, experience, and land a decent defensive coordinator (all of which he finally had in year 4) he was able to field a half-decent defense.
In the end I think this shows that Harbaugh is not the savior that many are making him out to be. He has made nice strides as the Head Coach at Stanford, however he has not done that much to set him apart from Rodriguez even on the defensive side of the ball. I'm not arguing that Rodriguez is the best man for the job, but to boot himin favor of Harbaugh based on Harbaugh's resume to this point would seem unfair to me. I'm hoping that Dave Brandon is looking at these types of numbers when he's doing his analysis of which coach is better for the future of Michigan.
This is probably a bad idea right now the way people are divided and I'm not making this comparison with negative intentions (though for Rich Rodriguez supporters, just mentioning the name John L Smith is bad enough, the guy's reputation is radioactive). And just for full disclosure I'll say up front that I would be in favor of getting rid of Rich Rodriguez and replacing him with Harbaugh.
All that said, this probably won't go over well but all I'm really trying to put forth is the stats (and let people draw their own conclusions). Maybe this against my better judgement and I'm just asking for trouble/being overly provactive. All I can say is that I'm not intentionally starting to stir up trouble. Going to try and just present the data and let people draw their own conclusions. With that said, I think the year three comparison of the two coaches is troubling.
Went with this comparison for three reasons
1) John L Smith represents the worst case scenario. Those who want to get rid of Rich Rodriguez fear that we just have another version of John L Smith (whether this fear is justified or not). Someone who gets the job done on the offensive side of the ball, but who can't build a complete team. And to be clear, there's no definitive answer here.
2) Easy comparison because John L Smith is someone who most Michigan fans are pretty familiar with.
3)From what I remember (and my memory of the John L Smith years has faded a bit) there were similiar kinds of problems. Good offense, bad defense (especially secondary wise). Had the tendancy to start the season well, but fade once MSU hit the meat of their schedule.
Below are relevant stats that I've pulled
Record for three years before Rodriguez or John L Smith
|MSU||U of M|
Year One Comparison
|John L Smith||Rich Rodriguez|
|Record||8-5 (started 7-1)||3-9|
|Total Yards||367.38 yards per game (73rd)||290.75 yards per game (109th)|
|Passing Yards||270 yards per game (23rd)||143.17 yards per game (108th)|
|Rushing Yards||97.38 yards per game (111th)||147.58 yards per game (59th)|
|Points||27.92 points per game (49th)||20.25 points per game (101st)|
|Total Yards||379.92 yards per game(62nd)||366.92 yards per game (67th)|
|Passing Yards||255.15 yards per game(97th)||230 yards per game (87th)|
|Rushing Yards||124.8 yards per game(27th)||136.92 yards per game (50th)|
|Points||22.5 points per game (40th)||28.92 points per game (84th)|
Year Two Comparison
|John L Smith||Rich Rodriguez|
|Record||5-7||5-7 (started 4-0)|
|Total Yards||460 yards per game (10th)||384.50 yards per game (59th)|
|Passing Yards||221.50 yards per game (51st)||198.33 yards per game (81st)|
|Rushing Yards||238.50 yards per game (10th)||186.17 yards per game (25th)|
|Points||29.42 points per game (38th)||29.50 points per game (41st)|
|Total Yards||381.42 yards per game (42nd)||393.33 yards per game (82nd)|
|Passing Yards||209 yards per game (54th)||221.42 yards per game (67th)|
|Rushing Yards||172.42 yards per game (73rd)||171.92 yards per game (91st)|
|Points||27.17 points per game (72nd)||27.50 points per game (77th)|
Year Three Comparison
|John L Smith||Rich Rodriguez|
|Record||5-6(started 4-0)||7-5 (started 5-0)|
|Total Yards||497.27 yards per game (5th)||500.92 yards per game (6th)|
|Passing Yards||295.45 yards per game (11th)||249.83 yards per game (34th)|
|Rushing Yards||201.82 yards per game (20th)||251.08 yards per game (11th)|
|Points||33.82 points per game (18th)||34.33 points per game (23rd)|
|Total Yards||409.55 yards per game (87th)||447.92 yards per game (109th)|
|Passing Yards||244.91 yards per game (85th)||260.25 yards per game (110th)|
|Rushing Yards||164.64 yards per game(76th)||187.67 yards per game (94th)|
|Points||28.73 points per game (77th)||33.83 yards per game (102nd)|
John L Smith Year 4
|Record||4-8 (started season 3-0)|
|Total Yards||356.75 yards per game (48th)|
|Passing Yards||227.58 yards per game (35th)|
|Rushing Yards||129.17 yards per game (65th)|
|Points||25.17 points per game (52nd)|
|Total Yards||363.75 yards per game (88th)|
|Passing Yards||230.92 yards per game (97th)|
|Rushing Yards||132.83 yards per game (56th)|
|Points||28.73 points per game (77th)|
I was too lazy to do so, but another data point that's probably worth taking into account are the relevant offensive and defensive measures in the three years prior to RichRod and John L Smith. This also doesn't take into account attrition numbers that each coach had to deal with (well documentated in Rich Rodriguez's case, no idea when it comes to MSU).
Editing Notes: made some changes with stats so presentation is better plus fixed typo in title.
Synopsis: The relationship between turnovers and winning a football game has been well documented. But, as I watched the last two Michigan games, it seemed to me that unforced errors by the offense (overthrown passes, dropped passes, penalties, bad snaps, missed FGs, shanked punts, not recovering on-side kicks, etc.) were far more prevalent and far more costly than turnovers. I decided to find out if I was crazy. So, I went back and watched the DVRs of both games, stopped the DVR at each unforced error, and documented the results. I am not crazy (at least not in this circumstance).
In the Wisconsin game: Michigan had 8 unforced errors, the opponent had NONE, there were 2 TOs by each team, and the turnover margin was –0-. Michigan scored just 28 points. Unforced errors by Michigan left at least 21 and perhaps as many as 35 points on the field.
In the osu game: Michigan had 18 unforced errors, the opponent had 7, there were 3 TOs by M, 1 TO by the opponent, and the turnover margin was –2. Michigan scored only 7 points. Unforced errors by Michigan left at least 17 points on the field. Unforced errors by osu left at least 8 points on the field. On average, the –2 TOM would cost M 8 points. The first shanked punt by M also put the D in terrible field position and led to osu's first TD.
In both of these games, many of the unforced errors occurred early when scores by the offense could have created or maintained momentum in Michigan's favor. Unforced errors are worse than TOs. Unless Michigan can significantly reduce the number of unforced errors, the team will continue to struggle to win games.
What Causes Unforced Errors: There does not appear to be any difference between the root causes of unforced errors and TOs. Younger, inexperienced players are the major causes for both. The physical differences between most 18 year old and most 22 year old football players is dramatic. The mental differences (i.e. poor judgment) are also significant. Bad luck is not a significant factor in either unforced errors or turnovers. Without attending practices, it is impossible to know whether coaching techniques (e.g. simulating real game conditions better, deliberating throwing passes that are difficult for receivers to catch, etc.) are being used that would reduce the unforced errors.
The Gory Details: Here are the tables of unforced errors for the last two games. Red are the Michigan unforced errors, black is the opponent's. First, Wisky: